Back to Basics.

Saturday afternoon

Is anyone else amazed that September is nearly half over? yikes! It still feels very much like summer here, but there are early signs of a new season. The cherry trees are nearly bare of leaves, the grasses are turning, and the days are noticeably shorter.

I’d been in a real funk on Thursday (empty house, nothing to look forward to … seemingly ever again 😉 ?!) and was surprised how just the simple act of reaching out to a tennis pro to schedule a lesson – have something to look forward to – changed my outlook.

Saturday morning I listened to a podcast (The Next Right Thing episode 143 – link) that really resonated with how I’d like to celebrate the seasons … at home, and in my life. (and yep, I pre-ordered the book!). I also spent several hours over the weekend prepping for our new Sunday School series on Being Grateful in Difficult Times*, which included watching conversations about gratitude. Yesterday morning, I led the first session, closing with this week’s Gratitude Practice:

Pay attention this week to these two things:

  • What made you feel grateful?
  • Did you say “thank you” to someone?

Yesterday afternoon I (finally) replied to the multitude of comments y’all have left on my recent blog posts. I was – and still am – incredibly grateful for your support, encouragement, and insight. I said “thank you” so many times … and it was wonderful.

Sunday morning

I decided to get Back to Basics this week and just see how it goes. Specifically, I set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier. I limited my mindless scrolling of Instagram to just 45 minutes. I spent quality time with my journal – looking back at last week and planning out this week. I made a need-to-do list and a want-to-do list.

this morning – last week on the left and this week on the right

Then I spent more quality time with Common Prayer, Richard Rohr, and Sarah Bessey. and I walked with Marc.

None of this is new for me – well, the “me” of early 2020. But in these COVID-times, I thought I was taking care of myself by easing up. sleeping a little later. more mindless scrolling. no schedule. and maybe I was … but now I’m ready for a new season.

and just maybe, getting back to (my) basics a path into that. (of course forecasted lows by the weekend that begin with a FIVE … well, that’s energizing too!)

Wishing y’all a week of purpose, of finding gratitude, and saying thank you.

*Our church purchased this course and we’ve put together a 10-week series with small group and large group sessions to explore/discuss the videos. As “homework”, we are using the Gratitude Journal that Butler-Bass published to go along with her book Grateful.

13 thoughts on “Back to Basics.

  1. Thanks again for a snapshot of your life Mere. I resonate! Thank you for sharing your life. Would you share a link to the planner you showed? I hope the week is a good one for all who are reading this.

  2. Gratitude keeping is at the top of my list this week. I also loved thE Lazy Genius series inspired by that book. Makes me want to rearrange my furniture.

  3. Your voice is so centering, Mere. Truly. I feel it every time I read your blog. A gift you may not even realize you’re giving—so—my turn to say Thank YOU!
    Today’s post reminded me a little of this Voktor Franklin quote, which I just happened to reread in my journal this morning: “What [man] actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving & struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely-chosen task.”
    Here’s to tennis lessons, I say!!

  4. I like the idea of dividing my list into “need to do” and “want to do.” I usually glam them all together, but when planning next week, I’ll give this a try. I’m guessing you’ve already found David Steindl-Rast at I’ve really enjoyed his writing and videos over the last few years.

  5. Wow! That looks like a busy calendar to moi. But, you know I don’t do planners or make lists. You do you and I’ll do me. Whatever works. I know you are going to miss Sara so much, but am so glad she was able to wing across the ocean and have some family time. Gratitude is ALWAYS a good thing. Finding out/deciding about need vs want is also a good thing!

  6. Oh goodness. There’s so much here!

    First of all – I love seeing your notebook pages. It looks like you write any planned activities in black and then add in how you filled the rest of your time in red? If that’s right, then I LOVE THAT! What a wonderful way to document your life. And I think I might try to make something similar work for me. Which makes me think that I DO need a hobonichi cousin. Oh good Lord. What have you done to me?!

    I love The Next Right Thing, but have struggled to listen to podcasts since you know what in March. But have you read Thornyhold? I try to read it every September and that book always gets me in the mood to settle in for fall, tidy away the clutter, and turn on the oven to bake. I love all of those little cues that it’s time to cozy in for a new season.

    Thank you for all of the reminders about gratitude. I admire all of the work you do with your church. It must be a lot to prepare for, but worthwhile.

    Enjoy the rest of your week! I hope you find that going back to basics is helpful 🙂

  7. You might be the busiest retired person I know — that planner spread!

    I think this time at home and all the chaos in the world has made me focus on being grateful for what I have more than ever before. Though I don’t necessarily label it as such, my pandemic journal has been a record of gratitude these past six months, and I’m sure that one day when we are beyond this crisis and I look back at it, I’ll see just how good we had it during this time, even though it felt like a real challenge at the time.

  8. Your pace looks a bit relentless, Mary! 😉
    Fall — even with retirement and even with Covid — still feels like a time for fresh starts!
    And YAY for scheduling that tennis lesson. 🙂

  9. I think getting back to basics is a perfect solution for a fall re-set! I am also happy to hear you’re taking the tennis lessons and understand your sadness at the quiet house. I’ll have a quick weekend with Dan after all – he’s coming the 2nd! And I like the look of the planner calendar!

  10. Fall is a good time to reestablish a schedule and routine. If the pandemic teaches us nothing more than to be grateful for ordinary pleasures as well as extraordinary days, I will have learned a great deal. Your gratitude practices and thoughts are an inspiration.

  11. I have started doing this but I scale back twitter. I want to have focus and goals and time to pursue all my interests. I am waiting to see if my daughter is visiting for the day tomorrow (outside). She might not because of the numbers but I hope she does in spite of the numbers. She is strict. We will be seeing our son next weekend.

  12. I am always inspired by you transparency and openness, and thank-you for all those interesting links. It looks as if the arrival of Autumn is whispering to you about new ways to live your days … Your diary made me blink – what full days you have! It must be hard having your daughter a long way away – I remember when mine was in Washington DC for a year, and it was achingly long – so I am holding you warmly in my thoughts.

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